When Is It Time to Retire Your Old Forklift?

There are several signs that your forklift may be too old. This guide shows you the signs that it’s time to retire your old forklift.

1n 2017, the United States recorded 9,050 non-fatal workplace injuries caused by forklifts. Part of the reasons for these accidents was human error. However, a good number of these mishaps at the workplace were also due to mechanical issues caused by unworthy forklifts. 

There's no doubt about it; forklifts serve a vital purpose at the workplace. However, knowing the right time to let go of this critical machinery has always been a challenge. On average, a forklift's useful lifetime is between 10,000-20,000 hours.

Beyond this point, an older forklift may become more of a liability to your business. Given the weight of this machinery and the load, operating an old forklift can pose a grave danger. 

When to Replace an Old Forklift

For most business owners, there's no definite time on when to replace a run-down forklift. A 10,000 - 20,000 hour period may sound like a precise timeline of usage for a forklift. However, the truth is that different factors ultimately affect your final decision to replace that old machinery. 

These factors include:

Type of Forklift 

When retiring a forklift, there's a different yardstick to each type. Electric forklifts tend to last longer than IC forklifts. This is because most times, the main reason for the replacement of forklifts is the wearing out of critical components.

Electric forklifts have fewer of such moving parts, which minimizes the risk of wear and tear. If you own an IC forklift, you might need to retire it earlier than when operating an electric forklift. 


Forklifts operating in harsh environments tend to wear out faster. If your operational context involves constant exposure to chemicals, bumps, and jolts, then it's likely that you'll experience premature wear. Unless you have one of our all-terrain forklifts that have unmatched sturdiness, harsh landscapes can have a toll on your forklift. 

As such, if your forklift is gradually unable to manage the daily applications, it could be due to the gradual inability to operate in rough environments. This could be a sign that it's time to consider retiring the forklift. 

Frequency of Use

Most forklifts serve an average of 2,000 hours per year. However, a forklift may age sooner in warehouses where the machinery records more than this average number of hours per year. 

Are you wondering when to retire your old forklift? One of the easiest ways to track your forklift's useful life is to assess the average annual input. 

Has your forklift been putting in less than 2,000 hours due to frequent breakdowns? Then it might be time to consider buying a new or used forklift.

As a business owner, these three factors should always apply when assessing your forklift's lifespan. Now let's consider the tell-tale signs that should signify a wrap to your forklift's useful service. 

1. Functional Life Vs. Economic Life 

An old forklift can still perform most of the routine roles, such as hauling loads. However, at what cost does the forklift execute such operations? Just because an unworthy forklift is still able to chug along doesn't mean holding on to it is cost-effective.  

It would be useful to compare your forklift's functional life with the economic value over a specific period. You should bear the following in mind during the analysis.

Working Hours Lost 

How many seconds, minutes, hours, or days are lost in a given financial period due to recurrent breakdowns? If lately, you have to grind most of your operations to a halt following your old forklift's unprecedented breakdowns, then it might be time to retire the equipment. 

Your worst undoing would be to assume that you can recover the lost time once the forklift is back up and running. Once the machinery attains a certain age in its lifecycle, the extent of functionality rapidly diminishes. As such, if the lost hours aren't comparable to the old forklift's functional value, it would help consider a new forklift. 

Maintenance Costs Incurred

Are you wondering when to consider forklift replacement? Well, it helps to start by estimating the maintenance costs per hour. A new forklift has zero maintenance expenses incurred during the initial period of its useful life. 

As your forklift ages, it might get to a point where the maintenance cost per hour outweighs its usefulness. All you need is a comprehensive assessment of the total repair and attachment replacement costs over a specific period. If your maintenance cost has more than doubled over the last year, it might be time to consider a new forklift.  

You might realize that the cost of constant repairs might be equivalent to buying a new machine altogether. Forklift attachments add value to this vital equipment. However, you should only consider repairs if you are sure about the remaining forklift's life span. 

2. Safety Features Are Outdated

For most people, old is gold. But when dealing with older forklifts, there's always a racking safety concern. The Department of Labor sets out relevant workplace safety standards each business should adhere to when in operation. Conversely, even with such standards in place, instances of operational negligence, such as operating an unworthy forklift, can cause grave danger.

If your old forklift has outdated safety features, it may be a ticking time bomb. The best option would be to consider forklift replacement ASAP.

3. Unresolvable Equipment Failures  

When a forklift is run-down, it exhibits inevitable extreme mechanical failures. Nothing is scarier than constant instances of dropped loads.

Such cases not only pose a safety concern but also expose the loads to imminent damages. Retiring a forklift at this point can save you from the inevitable financial and legal implications. 

Old forklifts are also prone to chronic cases of jerking motions. This is among the most common causes of neck and back injuries among forklift operators. If you want to avoid liability claims by your employees, it might be time to consider forklift replacement.

It's Time to Get a Used or a New Forklift 

The process of warehouses management can be overburdening without the right tools. A forklift is among the essential machinery you need in the hauling and transportation of critical goods. However, forklifts are prone to wear and tear over time.

Constant breakdown of forklifts, high repair costs, and unprecedented halts in operations may necessitate the replacement of an old forklift. 

A forklift replacement will cost you money. The good thing is that you can trade-in your old forklift with our range of used and new forklifts at affordable rates.

Are you wondering where to get a wide variety of high-quality forklifts? Visit our forklift page today to see what we have to offer.